This is a contentious issue for many and there is very little solid evidence available, other than that on the subject of heavy drinking and resulting Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). FAS can stunt fetal growth and weight and cause mental and physical defects. The main effect of FAS is permanent central nervous system damage, especially to the brain.
Drinking heavily and often affects a developing baby and can result in FAS. Binge drinking can be particularly harmful. If you binge drink, you are at more risk of having a baby with FAS than if you drink the same amount over a longer period.
Experts are less sure whether or not drinking at lower levels is dangerous. Many obstetricians say there is no proof of harm from light drinking. Light drinking is no more than one to two units of alcohol, no more than once or twice a week during pregnancy.
Other research has found that if you stick to a glass of wine a week it will do no harm to your baby. However, the Department of Health stands by its advice to pregnant women, and those trying to conceive, not to drink alcohol at all. It is likely that Government guidelines discourage drinking as they do not know how people will chose to interpret the term “light drinking”.
It would seem that for the first 3 months it would be advisable to steer clear of alcohol. Many people do not feel like drinking alcohol for the first few weeks of their pregnancy or even whole pregnancy, in which case this is not an issue. But if you find yourself craving a glass of wine, or you feel you need the odd glass to help yourself unwind in the evening, there does not seem to be any evidence to suggest this will cause your developing baby any harm.
For the remaining 6 months it would seem sensible to do what makes you feel comfortable. If you do decide to drink alcohol it’s best to stick to light drinking. That is no more than one or two units of alcohol, no more than once or twice a week. It is important that you do not get drunk.